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The Cyclical Behaviour of Sector and Regional Diversification Benefits: 1987-2002



This paper investigates the time series behaviour of the relative benefits of sector and regional diversification strategies, using the notion of cross-sectional dispersion introduced by Solnik and Roulet(2000). Using monthly data over the period 1987:1 to 2002:12, four sector and four regional classifications are examined in the UK. The results indicate that sector and regional dispersion indices are highly time varying and so dwarf any lower frequency cyclical components that may be present. Nonetheless, periods of high dispersion are closely followed by periods of low dispersion, suggestive of cyclical behaviour of sector and regional diversification benefits. Then, using the HP-filter we isolated the cyclical component of the various dispersion indices and found that the sector dispersion indices are generally above the regional dispersion indices. This implies that a sector diversification strategy is likely to offer greater risk reduction benefits than a regional diversification approach. Nonetheless, we find that in some periods, certain regional diversification strategies are of equal or greater benefit than certain sector approaches. The results also appear to be quite sensitive to the classifications of sectors and regions. Hence, the appropriate definition of sectors and regions can have important implications for sector and regional diversification strategies.

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